The City Council has passed a package of bills to expand eligibility requirements for the city’s housing voucher program, eliminating the 90-day rule that requires people to stay in a homeless shelter before they are eligible for the voucher. Under the new changes, someone can get a housing voucher if they are at risk of eviction. The council believes that the bills will help get people out of shelters and into housing faster, while the mayor opposes the measures, claiming that the bills will keep New Yorkers experiencing homelessness in shelter for longer. The bills were approved with a veto-proof majority, setting up the first legislative battle between the mayor and the City Council.
Citing NY1, the City Council has approved a package of bills aimed at expanding eligibility requirements for the city’s housing voucher program. The move is part of the council’s solution to address the city’s growing homelessness crisis.
The council’s proposal eliminates the 90-day rule, which requires people to stay in a homeless shelter for three months before they are eligible for a city housing voucher. Under the new changes, someone can get a housing voucher if they are at risk of eviction.
Shelter providers have praised the bills, saying they will help get people out of shelter and into housing faster. “Now they will be able to look for housing the first day they go to shelter,” said Christine Quinn, the president and CEO of Win.
However, Mayor Eric Adams opposes the measures. His press secretary issued a statement following the vote, expressing concern that nearly 20,000 existing voucher holders who cannot currently find housing because of the extremely low vacancy rate in the city would be lumped in with thousands more. The mayor’s team is exploring its options about a possible veto.
“We are confident in our support, and it would really be unfortunate if the mayor chose to veto the bills that help New Yorkers leave the shelter system,” said City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams. “We’ll cross that bridge if and when we get there.”
The bills were approved with a veto-proof majority, setting up the first legislative battle between the mayor and the City Council, one where the council did not back down. The council projects that under these changes, the number of households receiving a voucher will increase sevenfold in five years.
Meanwhile, the Adams administration claims the bills will cost the city $17 billion over five years. The mayor’s press secretary suggested the council may want to raise taxes in order to pay for it.
The council’s move to expand access to the city’s housing voucher program is a step towards addressing the city’s growing homelessness crisis. The elimination of the 90-day rule is a significant change that will allow people to get help faster. However, the mayor’s opposition to the measures highlights the challenges that come with implementing solutions to complex problems. It remains to be seen how this legislative battle will play out and what impact it will have on the city’s homeless population.